Life in the city and most parts of the state was affected on Friday by the dawn-to-dusk Karnataka bandh called by pro-Kannada outfits to protest against the Supreme Court’s direction to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.
A few activists who tried to enter the departure terminal of the Kempegowda International Airport and the railway station here were stopped and detained by police.
Transport services were hit with government buses staying off the roads while auto-rickshaw and cab unions extended their support to the bandh. Metro services in the country’s IT hub have also been halted.
People who reached the city from distant places and those travelling towards the airport are facing difficulties in reaching their destination with no mode of connectivity.
Our airport staff continue to be onsite to help in every way possible. They are wearing 'May I help you' badges , for easy identification— BLR Airport (@BLRAirport) September 9, 2016
The day-long protest is being spearheaded by as many as 500 pro-Kannada organisations, which represent sections including farmers, traders and businesses, and has the tacit support of the state government. Extra forces have been deployed with two companies each from Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, one from Maharashtra and 10 companies of central forces, police said.
Chief minister Siddaramiah had appealed for peace and said no damage should be caused to public property during the bandh.
Educational institutions declared a holiday, and attendance at government offices was comparatively less. While some private companies have declared a holiday, others made alternate arrangements for employees to “work from home”.
Petrol bunks, hotels, malls and other commercial establishments remained shut, besides banks services were also hit.
Karnataka Cable Operators Association, which is supporting the strike, said Tamil TV channels will not be aired.
The bandh has evoked a positive response from various parts of the state including Mandya, Mysuru, Ballari, Koppala, Chikkaballapura, Dharwad and Kolar.
In Mandya, the epicenter of the Cauvery protests, agitators blocked the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway at several places. A section of farmers in the district staged a protest by venturing into the river carrying stones on their heads.
In Ballari, three lorries bearing Tamil Nadu registrations were stoned by protesters.
The transgender community in the district also took part in the bandh related demonstrations.
This is the second bandh that the state is bracing for in a week’s time and the fourth this year.
Officials said with the bandh on the emotive Cauvery issue being supported by several organisations, unions and political parties, it was likely to be “total”.
Opposition parties of BJP and JD(S) have also lent support to the bandh.
The perennial water war between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka escalated on Tuesday after the Supreme Court ordered Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of water from the Cauvery river to Tamil Nadu, sparking off equal and opposite protests in the two states.
The farmers had threatened a bigger agitation after the order and called for a bandh on Friday. They had also announced intentions to block feeder canals to prevent water being given to Tamil Nadu.
“When we are being given only drinking water and not a drop for irrigation, why should farmers in Tamil Nadu be given water to grow their crops? This is patently unjust and the Karnataka government must file a review petition in Supreme Court against the decision,” Mandya MLA MH Ambareesh had said.
However, bowing to the apex court’s order, the state began releasing 15,000 cusecs of water daily from early Wednesday from its reservoirs across the river basin for 10 days amid protests and demonstrations in the Mysuru region.
The Karnataka government has said it will approach the apex court seeking modification of its order because of the difficulties in implementing it, given that the live storage in four reservoirs in the Cauvery basin now was 46.7 TMC ft against their capacity of 104 TMC ft.